With the 2014-2015 seasons now well underway in hockey leagues all over the world, it's time for another edition of the Defending Big D Prospect Rankings!
Compiled by Derek Neumeier and Huw Wales, the last edition of these rankings came back in September, before most leagues had begun action, so a lot has changed between then and now. Some of the Stars' prospects have propelled themselves into the spotlight, while others have struggled and stalled.
For consistency, we are using the same definition of "prospect" that we used before: "Any player who played fewer than 25 NHL games last season, or fewer than 50 NHL games overall, is considered a prospect -- the upper limit on the age cutoff is 26 years old."
Please note that these rankings are based off of a player's potential NHL ceiling, not who is the closest to NHL duty. These potential NHL ceilings are evaluated based on each player's cumulative careers up to this point, which explains why someone that was great last year but is struggling right now might be ranked higher than someone that is having an unexpected breakout season, for example.
Here now are the 20-player rankings, which also showcase each player's previous position on the list, their ages, and a brief explanation outlining why they're listed where they are:
|1||5||John Klingberg (D)||22||Could there be any other choice? Klingberg has exploded onto the NHL scene with his dazzling blend of smarts, skating and puck skills. With 8 points in 10 games already he's pretty much a lock to be a fixture on the Dallas blueline going forward|
|2||1||Jack Campbell (G)||22||Campbell has had a slow start to his 2014-2015 season, but he still remains a goalie with a ton of talent and potential. He will have to be rock solid on a consistent basis to take the number one goalie job for the AHL's Texas Stars this year|
|3||2||Brett Ritchie (RW)||21||Ritchie had a great rookie AHL season last year, but injuries have limited him to only 12 games so far this season. When he's on his game he's one of the AHL's best power forwards. Might see some time in Dallas this year if he stays healthy and plays well|
|4||4||Jamie Oleksiak (D)||21||Another player that looks like he's going to be sticking around in Dallas, Oleksiak is slowly progressing with regular NHL appearances. His level of play is currently below where it probably should be, but his overall potential remains very high|
|5||7||Patrik Nemeth (D)||22||A solid start to his season was sadly cut short due to a freak arm laceration from an errant skate blade. Still, Nemeth is an impressive prospect with a very rich NHL future ahead of him. Here's hoping that he has a full and speedy recovery|
|6||3||Devin Shore (C)||20||After dominating the NCAA last season, with 43 points in 35 games, Shore is struggling badly so far this year, with only 7 points in 15 games. Still plenty of time to turn his season around, but it's hard to not be disappointed with his play as of late|
|7||8||Julius Honka (D)||18||The slick youngster turned heads at Dallas' training camp, but is still very raw and in the early stages of his development. He's taking his lumps in the AHL, but learning lots about the pro game. 7 points in 19 games so far with Texas|
|8||6||Jason Dickinson (C/LW)||19||Dickinson's offensive game has taken a step back from where it was last year, with only 19 points in 20 games so far, but he's still one of the top two-way centers in the OHL. Considered a favorite to make the Team Canada roster for the World Juniors|
|9||14||Cole Ully (LW)||19||Small but skilled, Ully has been tearing up the WHL this season with 35 points in 26 games. He's the heart and soul of a scrappy Kamloops Blazers team and serves as their assistant captain. Quickly becoming a prospect to keep a very close eye on|
|10||19||Esa Lindell (D)||20||The biggest riser since the last edition of these rankings, Lindell is having a tremendous season in Finland's top league. He has 11 points in 23 games and is averaging over 24 minutes of ice time per game. There's a lot to like about the big, two-way defender|
|11||11||Niklas Hansson (D)||19||The most quietly impressive player on this list, Hansson has 14 points in 28 games in Sweden's Allsvenskan. A right-handed D with impressive skating and puck-handling, could the Stars potentially have another Klingberg on their hands?|
|12||12||Curtis McKenzie (LW)||23||McKenzie is continuing right where he left off last season, playing a robust game that combines both physical play and supportive offensive production, and is being rewarded with regular call-ups to Dallas. Should be an NHL regular in no time|
|13||10||Philippe Desrosiers (D)||19||His save percentage has dipped from where it ended last season, from .907 down to .895, but Desrosiers is still the bonafide #1 goalie on a very good Rimouski Oceanic team. Excellent blend of reflexes, competitiveness, and goalie sense.|
|14||17||Remi Elie (LW)||19||Elie might not be a huge point producer once he graduates to the pro leagues, but he plays an excellent two-way game and does all the little things right. Was a surprise invite to Team Canada's WJC training camp, but it was well-deserved|
|15||16||Brett Pollock (C/LW)||18||After losing much of their Memorial Cup Championship roster, the WHL's Edmonton Oil Kings now turn to Brett Pollock as their offensive leader. The young forward is responding well with 27 points in 28 games. Possesses great size and a heavy shot|
|16||15||Jyrki Jokipakka (D)||23||Some might wonder why Jokipakka isn't higher on this list, and that's a fair question. The steady Finn has good size and plays a reliable two-way game, but doesn't excel in any particular areas. He'll adapt nicely to the NHL level, but what's his ceiling?|
|17||13||Radek Faksa (C)||20||Faksa made big strides during the Texas Stars' Calder Cup run last season but hasn't taken that next step this year. 2 points in 19 games isn't enough offensive production for a 3rd line center. Might not be NHL-ready as soon as expected|
|18||9||Ludwig Bystrom (D)||20||Bystrom is still developing in the Swedish Hockey League, but it's happening at an inconsistent pace. Was a healthy scratch to start the season, but is now earning his ice time again. Possesses the puck well, but needs to produce more points|
|19||NR||Dmitry Sinitsyn (D)||20||Sinitsyn took a risk by going from the WHL over to Russia for this season, but it's beginning to pay off. After starting the year in the MHL, a junior league, he has impressively worked his way up to the KHL and now takes a regular shift there|
|20||20||Brendan Ranford (LW/RW)||22||One of the biggest fan favorites for the Texas Stars, Ranford isn't a flashy player but he finds ways to produce points. He has 4 goals and 8 assists in 19 games playing primarily on the team's top line. Could land an NHL job one day based on sheer will|